US Rowing Masters Nationals, Day 1 Recap

I made notes throughout the day, because so much happens during the events. At the end, it’s hard to remember everything!

Alan and I survived the drive to Grand Rapids with a two-year-old. Over eight hours, two meltdowns, one pee in a mason jar, and lots of “I gotta get outta heeh.” Don’t we all?

Holly said, “possible regatta slogan?”

After a rough night sleep and rain, the munchkin woke up late (7am). Dawn brought a gray and balmy 59F with a cross/tailwind.

My first race started at noon, so I had a filling breakfast. Lots of down time packing and hanging with the monkey before shuttling to the venue.

Morning prep

Grand Rapids venue first impression:

Lovely. All the tall trees, the shade, the peeks out to the water. My heart started racing driving over the Grand River and seeing all the boats on the course.

Heats: Womens Open C 4x

I’m not super-superstitious in general, but as rowers we have our routines. Our lucky charms. I woke up with a good feeling. All morning Caelan told me I, “had a ladybug on my back.” Then our rented quad had a cricket in it. Lucky cricket?

After last night’s rain, we had more current and clouds. It was still cool when Alan dropped me off amongst the half-mile of boats. I wore pants and a jacket through the warm-up.

Last night I decided to change my oars. They’re set shorter and heavier than standard. Initially I thought it’d be fine with the current, but we had so much crossover in our practice row it was rowing “Gangnam Style.” And on reflection, the boat felt heavy.

So I made them 1cm longer and reduced the inboard 2cm.

Night and day. Felt way better.

Our practice up to start felt solid. Our stroke hot-seated for her third race of the day! Superwoman! She warned us of a list towards port at the start. The stake boat holder confirmed this trend.

So it was a cloudy and cool 12 o’clock when the announcer called, “quick start.”

And we slightly listed to port.

About four of us took off together and held position for the first 250. One started drifting slightly, but still a threat. The fifth boat I wrote off by 300m.

Bow called us in the lead around 400, but barely. I stayed focused on the pink NRS logo in front of me. I refused to look.

We had a power just before the 500m. That pushed us a bit ahead. By 750 the boats on the starboard had dropped clear into 4th and we had seats on the other two.

We came up in the last quarter, but not a true sprint.

It always feels good to win your first race at Nationals, even if it’s just a heat. Everyone comes off the water happy. The cricket was singing.

We clearly were in the fast heat. I expected the final to be a compete event race.

The Break

I literally had six hours from heat start time to my final start time. Worst schedule ever. Alan picked me up and we came back to the camper.

Yep. We’re camping. During Nationals.

Sleepy time!

We all took a nap. I repacked. Decided to change into my unicorn unisuit, feeling like we’d need some lucky unicorn power for the C 4x Final.

Final: Womens Open C 4x

When you get to the end of the day, sometimes it’s hard to remember all the details. I ran into Dragos dropping off oars at recovery. I went for a jog around the grass to attempt warming up. Ran into Alan and Caelan, who gave a good luck kiss.

We had to go right to the start because of our hot seat situation, but it was comfortable time-wise.

The start was clean. We sprinted a little longer this time. I had the impression of being up with the pack, but again I tried not looking. I peeked once both sides to see two boats back down on us, but I didn’t do a full look. We were at least in 4th. I was most concerned about Chinook on our port.

Bow called we were in the lead. I figured it had to be just barely.

Saw first red buoy. A call to focus. Feeling cold.

A bad, splashy stroke on my part.

Red buoy, 500. Another call to move. Now Chinook and boat to starboard are dropping down.  Still in the lead, but fighting. How far? I don’t know.

I know red buoy is coming. I sense movement to starboard. I look. Georgian Bay in lane 6. Another peek. I sense they’re moving up on us. I make a call, “Watch Georgia Bay! They’re moving.”

Then it’s the red buoys. Push. Up. Up. We’re stopping the move. We’re leading. We’re going to win.

Horn. It’s over. My first-ever Nationals win! Yay!

I don’t have the medal yet because I had to hot seat into my next race. We’re going to pick it up tomorrow.Regatta hair, don’t care

Women’s Open B 8+

I had more time than I thought, but you never know with hot seat situations. So I ditched the quad and ran looking for Carnegie Lake. Ran into Alan and Caelan again. Another good luck kiss from the boys.

I spotted the women in orange off in the corner. Ran over, jazzed up still on adrenaline. It was a fast, “Hello!” and congrats on winning, then right to hands on.

I sat bow in this boat. I knew it had potential as we started rowing all eight and the boat was pretty set. It was a composite with all kinds of women: Carnegie Lake and Vesper.

If you don’t know how I roll as a rower, I crack jokes. Really corny jokes. Mom jokes, maybe? And hey, I was rowing bow seat. Got to keep the party going, right? Party in the bow. So I may have said things like:

  • (Getting on the launch dock, which was wobbling in the current) “Whoa, had too much beer already.”
  • “Anyone bring a flashlight?” (Because our race time was 7:11)
  • “Hey, how about we get some glow sticks and do a time lapse shot?”
  • (Police sirens) “They’re coming for me!”
  • “Who bought the tequila?”
  • “My race plan is to put vodka in all of the competition’s water.”
  • “Composites are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

The cox ran through the race strategy. I suggested maybe, if we were in a good spot at 600m, doing a “move 10,” or a “power10.” It got shrugged off.

By the time we locked onto the stake boat, I was dead cold and in desperate need of a port-o-let.

The sun’s late day angle was bouncing off the water and right into my eyes. I shifted my hat to block this. The drawback was it blocked my view of all the boats. We were in lane 1.

We listed off to port on the start, but recovered.

I remember just lots of pushing, honing in on two seat. The Carnegie Lake orange is eye-catching.

I thought cox said we were in first. Then around 500 or so she said 3rd. She kept talking about Alexandria. I kept pushing.

About 600 I felt the power come off just slightly. Like people were hitting the wall. It was subtle, but there. I wish we’d taken that power 10.

It came back on for the sprint. Definitely feeling the cold start, very tired, but pushing through as hard as possible. Two horns, close together, not us. Then horn. Looked fast left. For us. We overpowered Alexandria to finish 3rd.

I’m pleased about it. Like I said. You never know with composites what you’re going to get. This was a solid effort and solid row.

I didn’t bring my phone with me around the venue today, and the 8+ hasn’t sent photos yet. No awesome pics.

So now it’s time to rest, refuel, and get ready for a super competitive Women’s Open A 2x tomorrow.

Happy water!

About camckenna

I write; I row.
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2 Responses to US Rowing Masters Nationals, Day 1 Recap

  1. Betty grant says:

    Wow! I never knew there was so much involved in Masters Rowing. After reading your notes I JUST LOVED it. I will be following you. Good Luck, I know you got what it takes.
    B. Grant

  2. Pingback: Reflections on Head Season & Faster Masters | 10morestrokes

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